Shopping and the City

Posted by Jill Chivers in My Story

Hello and welcome to blog #84.  Fresh back from New York City, I have much to share… Now that I’ve had a vitamin B shot and 18 straight hours of sleep to recover from those 48 hours in the city, I’m able to put fingers to keyboard and stamp out something vaguely coherent.  I think.

New York is a city that exacts a high energetic cost from you.  People are always saying how buzz-y NYC is, how pace-y it is.  How much “energy” there is there. 

Just on that, it’s interesting to note that “energy” used to be a specific term applied in conversation by those interested in the field of physics and thermodynamics.  You know, those people with brains on intellectual crack and a breastpocket full of ballpoint pens.  “Energy” simply didn’t come up much outside of that context, right?

In the 1990s, I was most accustomed to it with the word ‘Australia’ after it – letters in windowed-envelopes would appear quite frequently from said company, demanding the payment of a utility bill in exchange for the energy the household had consumed.  Again, not a sexy term.

But now, “energy” is a term used to describe the way something feels — a city or a mood or a room.  like “I have no energy for this conversation” or “This room is just so full of energy“.  These are not energy equivalents that are measured in joules or would fall under Noether’s Theorum, I might add (by the way, you should only click on that last link if you are experiencing serious difficulty in falling asleep).

So, NYC has “energy”.  And you need a bucketload of it if you’re going to try to keep pace while visiting it.  I walked so much on Friday that my feet were vibrating by the time I got back to the hotel.  I could have charged my mobile phone from the “energy” being emitted from the soles of my feet after all that walking.  Well, that’s how it felt anyway.

New York is a city where anything is available almost all of the time.

You can have McDonalds delivered 24 hours a day.  You can have a massage or see a movie in a theatre or eat a meal in a restaurant at any hour of the day or night.

If you have a low threshold for the certainty of continued life via erratic driving and alarming vehicular control, you can take a New York City taxi.  I haven’t seen that kind of driving outside of some Asian cities where you take your life in your hands when you step into the back of the cab.  At least in NYC, you have all those shopping bags to cushion the blow should an accident ensue.  Like the shopper hailing a cab to the left here.

Every 60 seconds you see someone dressed in an eye-catching (and usually it’s eye catching for a good reason vs. eye-catching in a scary or plain weird) way.  Well, in the parts of the city I visited that was true.  I didn’t make it to the West Village so perhaps I should reserve full comment on that “scary or plain weird” thing until then. 

I saw more Subversives here than anywhere else I’ve visited in the United States (for a full run-down of the four personality styles of dressing, check out blog #69 again). That’s gotta be saying something, right?

Is it just me, or is NYC full of gorgeous people?  Maybe I was just in love with being there (caught up in the “energy”) but almost every single guy I walked by looked like he should have been in a Stella  Artois commercial.  Like the vaguely appealing man in the photo to the left.  Unfortunately, he (oh ok, so I mean the advertisement) was about 37 feet above the street which prevented a thorough analysis of his attractiveness, but one could glean a vague appeal from that distance.

 (As an amusing aside, if you visit the Stella Artois website, you need to put in your birth date to enter – you must be over the legal drinking age to enter the website.  Not a bar or club where actual alcohol is served.  No. This is just to, er, read about alcohol.  Now that’s what I call responsible service of alcohol people!)

Sephora is one of my favourite stores.  And no, I have not entered in unconscious shopping transference, lord forbid, and started shopping for cosmetics like a mad woman.  I might have wanted to, sure, in a few unhinged moments, but I haven’t.  Very restrained I’ve been.

The store at 42nd and Madison was a revelation.  They had a DJ playing.  That’s her to the left, scratching the vinyl. 

The whole place pulsed like a disco in 1989.  Right down to the make-up worn by some of the staff – I don’t think I’ve seen so much blue eyeshadow and fake eyelashes since Boogie Nights.

There is an opportunity to shop every 5 paces in New York City. Sure, it might be Chinese-made crap souvenirs or Chinese-made crap necklaces or Chinese-made crap wigs… There’s a lot of Chinese-made crap, I noticed.

But it also might be some amazing artisan piece from ABC Home  on 19th and Broadway (now this is an astonishing store – one worth making a special trip to visit.  If one was shopping, naturally.  For homewares, naturally.  Which I’m not, naturally.  But I still appreciated how amazing this store was). 

Temptation is a concept New York City was designed to exploit.  It’s a city bloated with desire.  In all its guises.

If you’re not being visually distracted by all the beautiful and interesting looking people… If your senses are not being assaulted by the sheer volume of retail choices that exist…you’re being distracted by the not-so-subtle advertising. 

Sure, this advertising may be international.  But it’s the sheer size and scale of it in NYC that draws the eye.  Ok, so we know that sex has been used to sell stuff since Cleopatra started ordering via mail order catalogue.  But this advertisement really takes the cake. And we ain’t talking low-fat, sugar-reduced cake either.

I’ll sign off today’s post with an example.  Next time, I’ll regale you with a review of the off-Broadway show we saw – Love, Loss and What I Wore

But in between now and then, please enjoy this photo.  I can’t quite tell if it represents the best or the worst of what NYC has to offer.  Whatever it is, love it or loathe it – one thing’s for sure:  you can’t ignore it.  Just like the city.  Right?

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